Microsoft Connect() is a virtual conference that is meant to Inspire developers to build the apps of the future. Today, Day 1 of Connect(), started with a keynote from Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group sharing how Microsoft is empowering developers to lead the new digital revolution by creating apps that will have a profound impact on the world. There are lots of feature announcements and other great content and highlights included in Connect() in addition to the inspiration given by Scott and others. This post lists out some highlights of some of the things announced and discussed at Microsoft Connect() 2017.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Highlights

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) space has been growing immensely the last couple years, even more so than the time period before that. Microsoft has been investing tons into the advancement of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML) services within the Microsoft ecosystem, including Microsoft Azure and other uses as well. Along with this innovation is an increased emphasis in the AI space that we’ve all seen growing over the years. This increased emphasis comes with it a new vision that can be summed up best by the following quote from Microsoft:

Bringing AI to every developer, everywhere

Here are some highlights from Connect() around this new AI vision:

Bringing AI to every developer

The Visual Studio Tools for AI Preview is bringing AI productivity tools to Visual Studio along with Microsoft Azure that can be used to Create, Train, Manage, and Deploy AI models.

Bringing AI everywhere

The release of the Azure IoT Edge Public Preview is available, enabling Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to be built and deployed at the “Edge”. (The “Edge” refers to devices that reside on your on-premises network at a place just before the communication and integration reaches the cloud. This can also be referred to as the “Fog” in the IoT space.)

Azure Machine Learning is being updated to provide integration with the Azure IoT Edge to deploy Machine Learning models on “Edge” devices. It’s also being integrated to support model deployment on iOS devices using Core ML.

The Azure SQL Server with Machine Learning Services is also being released to enable Data Scientists to deploy Machine Learning models directly to the Database.

Additionally, here’s a graphic that summarized the different components within the Microsoft AI Platform and places them in their respective categories. You can see that Microsoft is starting to have a very large variety of Artificial Intelligence (AI) offerings, and through this variety you can surely see their vision of “Bringing AI to every developer, everywhere” is certainly starting to come together!

P.S. You’ll have to excuse the image quality, I had to take a photo of my computer screen when writing this post. 🙂

App Dev Highlights

The Visual Studio App Center is being made Generally Available (GA). This provides the most complete Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD), and Feedback service for Objective-C, Swift, Java, Xamarin, and React Native developers. Using Visual Studio App Center, developers can ship iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS apps faster and with greater confidence through lifecycle automation.

Visual Studio Live Share allows developers to seamlessly and securely share projects with collaborators who can edit and debug within their own IDE or code editors.

Microsoft Azure includes a new Azure DevOps Projects guided experience that enables customers to easily explore many Azure platform services, as well as configure a full CI / CD DevOps pipeline powered by Microsoft Visual Studio Team Services.

Github announces the GitHub Roadmap for Git Virtual File Systems (GVFS) making GVFS the industry standard for enterprise scale Git repos.

With Visual Studio Connected Environment for AKS, developers will be able to easily create, test, and debug cloud native applications while always staying connected to the cloud and their team.

Data Highlights

The Azure Databricks Preview is a fast, easy, and collaborative Apache Spark based analytics platform that is optimized for Microsoft Azure. It offers one-click setup, a streamlined workflow, and an interactive workspace for collaboration. It also natively integrates with Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Storage, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Active Directory, and Power BI.

The new Apache Cassandra API for Azure Cosmos DB is being released in Preview. This enables Cassandra developers to utilize the benefits of Azure Cosmos DB along with the familiarity of the Cassandra SDKs and tools while requiring zero code changes to their applications.

Microsoft is joining the MariaDB Foundation as a platinum sponsor. They are also releasing an upcoming preview of Azure Database for MariaDB, a community developed fork of the MySQL relational database management system. This adds Azure Database for MariaDB alongside Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL already in Preview within Microsoft Azure.

Posted by Chris Pietschmann

Chris is a Microsoft MVP and has nearly 20 years of experience building enterprise systems both in the cloud and on-premises. He is also a Certified Azure Solutions Architect (both MCSD and MCSE), a trainer, and Cloud Advocate. He has a passion for technology and sharing what he learns with others to help enable them to learn faster and be more productive.

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